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Mercer County put together one of its best Memorial Day parades to date to honor those who have made the ultimate sacrifice.
Organizers of the Mercer Memorial Day Parade do not consider the day a holiday because of what it represents: A day to honor those who died while serving their country. This year, several thousand people lined the streets to remember those soldiers.
“This community embraces them and always has,” said organizers Ed and Sharon Dittrich.
The couple took over for the 10th annual parade this year. And unlike many other parades, there was no candy being thrown out into the crowds.
Parade-goers still had a great time, and some said they wish everyone would remember just why we celebrate Memorial Day.
“That’s something we should all remember. That’s the true meaning of Memorial Day, to honor those who have served, and particularly those who have given the ultimate sacrifice,” said Frank Deramo of Mercer.
“You think years back, it seemed to have died out, as far as our patriotism and our understanding that we need to think about these kind of people and all the wars,” said Dave and Judy Hoye of Mercer.
The full name for the parade is the Mercer Memorial Day 500 parade. The reason for the name is because organizers, with the help of many volunteers, put up 500 flags throughout Mercer for Memorial Day each year.
“It just brings tears to your eyes when you see the parade going up and down the street. It made me feel good,” said Ed and Sharon Dittrich.
“God bless America. Enjoy the day. Thank you for our troops. They do a great job,” said Roberta Brockiehurst of Jackson Center, Pa.
Residents and businesses help support the parade financially every year to make it all possible.
After the parade, many of the parade-goers walked down to the Citizens Cemetery in Mercer to continue to recognize those who died serving this country. The Salute to the Dead service was the climax of the Memorial Day events going on in Mercer.
The speaker, Burton Kephart, had a son that died in 2004 in Baghdad while fighting for this country. Organizers said the service is the most emotional event of the day and always draws a large crowd because people want to pay their respects.